TORONTO, June 13, 2021 /CNW/ – Management and their counsel at Black Creek Community Health Centre walked away from the bargaining table, abandoning talks late Saturday, leaving its unionized workers no choice but to walk off the job.
OPSEU/SEFPO community health centre workers made every effort to reach a fair settlement but were stymied by a management that refuses to compensate their health care workers fairly. The union’s offers to settle are well within the scope of Bill 124 but were rebuffed by an inexperienced negotiator who seems determined to break the unionized workers, the majority of whom are Black and racialized women.
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the union will throw the full weight of its resources behind the 70 health care workers, as they head to the picket line on Monday morning.
“It’s disgraceful and shameful that this employer would put union busting before the needs of a community that relies on the health centre’s services,” said Thomas. “The board of directors appears to be no friend to the community and no friend to their own workers.”
“We’ve bent over backwards to approach these negotiations in a constructive manner, but this employer’s lawyer wants to play games with people’s lives. This is shameful and unacceptable.”
Black Creek Community Health Centre told employees that they must accept no wage increases. That is an effective pay cut, despite the fact the health centre has sufficient funds to pay workers the one per cent annual wage increases allowed under Bill 124.
The community health care services provided by OPSEU/SEFPO Local 5117’s members are vital to the Jane and Finch and Black Creek communities, which face significant health inequities due to unemployment, low income, and precarious immigration status, amongst other challenges. The residents that will be impacted by this strike include Black and racialized people and non-English speaking immigrants, many of whom have precarious immigration status and no supplemental health insurance.
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida noted that the Toronto law firm representing management quotes NFL football legend Vince Lombardi on its website: “The best defence is a good offence.”
“To allow such a callous law firm to hijack the negotiations in the caring sector shows a total lack of sensitivity on the part of the employer,” said Almeida. “Locker room labour relations is not good enough for a community that deserves quality health care. Labour relations is not a game. It is a process that relies upon trust and goodwill, values that are in short supply on the employer’s side.
“We’ve taken on bullies before and we aren’t going to back down with this dreadful crew. Tough times do not last, tough people do. Our members will prevail.”
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)